Step aside California, South Carolina is now earthquake country. People living in the Palmetto State likely felt déjà vu on Wednesday when multiple earthquakes shook a town near Columbia for the third time in a week.
The state has experienced about 40 quakes over 1.3 magnitude since December 27, 2021. Five of those were magnitude 3.0 and greater. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) wrote in their tectonic summary that quakes are not unusual in this region but experiencing 40 in ‘such a short time’ is unusual.
"It is extremely rare for them to be foreshocks to much larger earthquakes," stated the summary.
Rumbling this week
An earthquake rumbled Carolinians awake early Sunday morning. The United States Geological Survey says the 3.4 magnitude quake happened near Columbia, South Carolina.
On Wednesday afternoon, another quake was recorded near Elgin, South Carolina, very close to the same spot of Sunday's earth-shaking event. The initial measurement is a 3.5 magnitude earthquake, according to the USGS.
Another quake rumbled Elgin with a 3.6 magnitude on Wednesday at 7:03 in the evening, according to the USGS. Over 1,600 Carolinians reported feeling the earth move.
The preliminary report estimates the first earthquake was 1.6 miles deep, and people in Elgin reported a moderate intensity. Some reported feeling the quake as far out as Aiken. The earthquake was reported at 2:43 p.m., about 3 miles east of Elgin.
About 10 minutes later, the USGS reported a second earthquake, approximately 3.8 miles east of Elgin. The second quake was 2.1 magnitude. According to the USGS, quakes less than a 2.5 magnitude are not recorded unless they are felt.
The 3.6 quake struck very close to the first Wednesday temblor, 3.7 miles east of Elgin at a depth of 1.8 miles deep, reported USGS.
Earthquake cluster in central South Carolina
A USGS seismologist told FOX Weather the earthquakes on Wednesday were likely part of a "cluster" or series of earthquakes happening very close together in the same fault zone. These kinds of earthquake clusters occur all along the East Coast.
"This swarm will continue for an unknown length of time, and if it stops it may resume sometime in the future," wrote the USGS. "There have been about 40 earthquakes of magnitude 1.3 or larger in the sequence, with the largest being the magnitude 3.6 earthquake on June 29, 2022."
As these earthquakes were relatively shallow, the USGS reports, they were felt in a wider area than similar magnitude quakes.
South Carolina quakes are not unusual
Seven earthquakes shook the area around Jenkinsville and the Monticello Reservior in October 2021. But, that swarm was not related to the current series, per the USGS.
About 20,000 Earthquakes are recorded globally per year, according to the USGS. Some might associate earthquakes as a West Coast problem, but data shows that four of the 10 largest earthquakes recorded in the U.S. happened on the East Coast.
On the greatest quakes list is the 1886 Charleston, South Carolina earthquake, a 7.0 magnitude event. The current cluster is not related to the area of the Charleston quake, assures the USGS.
According to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, South Carolina is one of the most seismically active states on the east coast. About 10 to 20 are recorded yearly in the state, but only two to five are felt.
Earthquakes less than a 3.0 magnitude usually cause little or no damage.
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